Full-Cast Play Productions: An Audio Experience

September 19, 2016

The topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about audio and rather than list my favorite narrators or audiobooks, I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about a different kind of reading/audiobook experience I had this summer.

This summer, I actually spent quite a bit of time listening to plays, which if you have never done that, I highly recommend it. The plays I listened to are all full-cast productions so all of the characters are played by different actors. If you’re wary of audiobooks or not sure if they’re for you, I think full-cast productions are the perfect entrée into the format.

When we watch plays (or TV/movies for that matter), I think we take for granted how much work the dialogue has to do. So I really appreciate listening to plays because they give me an even greater sense of how much work the dialogue does in terms of setting the scene, establishing character/character relationships, and advancing the plot–all without huge dumps of exposition (if it’s done well, of course).

I listened to 3 1/2 full-cast plays this summer. Here are the three I actually reviewed over on Goodreads:

The GraduateThe Graduate by Terry Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Listened to the L.A. Theater Works production. Benjamin is the absolute worst. Ugh. However, Elaine and Mrs. Robinson are both A++++. Also, this play ended exactly the way I knew it would and exactly how I wish it wouldn’t have. Oh well.

Kathleen Turner is a national treasure. She is fantastic.


The Importance of Being EarnestThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listened to the BBC full-cast production. This is super fun and has a lot of great commentary on gender and class.


Camille: A Play in Five ActsCamille: A Play in Five Acts by Alexandre Dumas fils
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually listened to an audio production of this produced by Blackstone Audio, but I can’t find it on here. I chose it because I thought it was by Alexandre Dumas of Count of Monte Cristo, but no, this is Alexandre Dumas the YOUNGER, apparently. Anyway, very dramatic in the best possible way and so so scandalous.

Read Harder 2016: Read a play.

View all my reviews


Sorry, Wrong Number by Lucille Fletcher

A long time ago, I listened to and reviewed Sorry, Wrong Number here on the blog. Here’s an excerpt from that review:

This book is only 23 minutes long, and it is INTENSE. We listened to it while running errands today, and, wow, we were totally invested in the story. The voice work is fantastic. I love that the play is performed by a full cast, and the voice-only production (with a few ringing phones and busy signals thrown in) kind of adds to the mounting terror. Everything is so sparse that it’s like I was sitting trapped in the room with Mrs. Stevenson, trying to get someone to listen to me.

I highly recommend it is what I’m saying.

I also really, really wish Harry Potter & The Cursed Child had a full-cast audio production so I could have experienced the book that way. ALAS. And I don’t know if one exists, but my library doesn’t have a copy of A Raisin in the Sun in this format, which would be a delightful dream come true for me since I was planning to read it this year.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to discovering more full-length plays. I listened to all of these (with the exception of Sorry, Wrong Number) through Overdrive at my library. (My frustration with the interface and ease of finding plays to listen to over there is a different post.) I think the more familiar I become with plays as a form of storytelling/narrative (I actually love to read plays and need to do more of it), the easier finding plays to listen to will become. At least, I hope so.

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  1. ChrissiReads

    I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a play. I’m interested though! Great list. 🙂

  2. Wendy @ Falconer's Library

    Super interesting! I used to read plays when I was in high school and college, but haven’t done so in years. A full cast recording would be a really cool way to experience some good drama. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Tori @ InToriLex

    I have never listened to a Play, but this is a great start to that format. The Importance of Being Earnest specifically, looks great!!
    My TTT

  4. KenyaTakesCharge (@BookedUpBoss)

    There is a full cast Shakespearean Star Wars that I want to listen to, not that I think I could get through it all without stabbing my own throat out. (I’m being hyperbolic, and should not be placed on risk restrictions.) There’s a casted version of the Lock and Key comics that was awful, while the Hobbit wasn’t too bad. It must be very hard to do them well, I think.


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